Crisis on Nike and UEFA Express Concern in French Soccer Federation

France’s football federation is coming under pressure from its main sponsor, Sports Wear Nike, to describe what steps it is taking to remove laxity within its senior management ranks, a workplace marked by bullying, abuse and sexism. Disturbing details about culture and interplay. An officer and a teen prospect at his top player academy.

Naik’s intervention is not the only problem facing the troubled Federation. Last week, the French Ministry of Sports said it planned to launch an investigation into the allegations, which were published by The New York Times, that the Federation Misquoted an inquiry Clairfontaine includes inappropriate behavior by a former instructor at its National Training Center.

In recent times, UEFA, the governing body for football in Europe, has also sought answers from top French football officials about the case. And FIFA’s Ethics Committee is monitoring the events and plans of writing a letter requesting information from the federation this week, according to an official information on the plan.

Naik’s public intervention in the federation’s internal functioning is significant, however, as sponsors usually miss commenting on their partners’ behavior unless compelled to do so seriously by the status quo.

“We are concerned about these allegations and we are closely monitoring the situation,” a Naik spokesperson told the Times via email. The company’s contract with the federation, known as the FFF, runs through the 2026 World Cup and is valued at 50.5 million euros (approximately $ 61 million) each year. When it was signed in 2017, FFF President, Noel Le Gratt called it “Best contract in the world. “

The federation declined to comment on the discussion with Naik, saying that it does not share details of the interaction with its sponsors with the news media. But Naik’s expression of concern comes at a difficult time.

After Earlier report Extensive workplace concerns inside the federation, Le Graët hired an external consultant and suggested an inquiry into how he might work after his staff Toxic relationships described Some senior employees were put on leave to make official complaints and others on leave.

The report, produced by consultant Eric Molière, is closely guarded by Le Graët and FFF Director-General, Florence Hardouin, with its contents only orally shared with the Federation’s Executive Board on 25 November. The federation spokesman said that neither the report nor. Its findings will be made public.

But according to a person familiar with the report’s content, Mollier – who concluded that the federation had workplace issues – stopped agreeing with witnesses who described sexual harassment cases. Instead, he documented problems related to sexism, bad language, and alcohol consumption.

Mollier also suggested that organizational problems in the federation were related to the number of department heads – currently more than a dozen, all jockeys for position and influence – and recommended the formation of a small committee of five officers who The new “agile” leadership team will serve as.

Problems at the FFF have come to the public at a time when it has celebrated some of its biggest successes, including a men’s team victory at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and successful hosting of the Women’s World Cup a year later. .

In the past month, the federation has hired a crisis communications company to handle The Times’ questions about how a teacher is working at the elite Clarefontaine Training Center – widely one of the best football finishing schools in the world Considered as – was allowed to continue work in football for eight years after being quietly removed from his post in 2012 for inappropriate communication with a young player in training.

Sponsorship advisor Tim Crowe said that a company like Naik was decided to take a position against a partner in times of crisis, “especially important in the case of Nike, because they are aware of these things in general Are tight. ” (Naik, that was Gender discrimination lawsuit In 2018, it has its own issues Toxic workplace culture.)

Sponsors, Crowe added, have become more vulnerable to the scandal. “On one hand, the brand is never more risky,” he said. “And on the other, there is a need to be objective, and show that you are a good corporate citizen is really important, and that’s where these things collide.”

Le Graët, who has been chairman of the FFF for a decade, is expected to stand for a new term in elections early next year.

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